Images of the Savior (34 â€“ His Giving Sight to the Man Born Blind)
Throughout Israel's history God had done many marvelous works in her behalf, sending to her his prophets and miracle-workers, who brought down bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4), subdued the bitterness of death-bearing poisons (II Kings 2:19-22; 4:38-41), stopped the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:16-23), and even raised the dead (II Kings 4:32-37). But there was one miracle so astounding in its divine potency, and so indicative of the true essence of the Messianic accomplishment, that it had never before been performed in sacred history, but only promised as a sign of the final age of blessing, in which the Christ should bring the very Kingdom of God to earth; and that sign was, the giving of sight to the congenitally blind (Isaiah 35:4-5; 42:6-7). As we look to this next account, therefore, we may encounter as clear a glimpse of the person of Christ in his Messianic office as any of his miracles are able to unveil before our eyes. Spirit of God, do not let us come away unravished from this text! Lead us to the Sun of Righteousness, where we might bathe our dark and sorrowing souls in the glory of the Light divine! As sunflowers that ever turn their faces full to the sun of their love, let us turn now our hearts to the light of glory, which beams from the face of the Son of God. In order to do so, we will consider, first, what it means that Jesus is the Light of the World; second, how it is that he accomplishes his Messianic task of bringing light to the world; and third, the diverse effects that this work of light-bringing has upon various classes of people in the world.
The very nature of God is pure and unfading light, in which is no spot of darkness at all. God is utterly pure, and in his presence may be found no sin or stain, even as the darkness must flee from the presence of a brilliant light; he is utterly omniscient, and there is nothing that is hidden from his penetrating gaze, no, not the deepest recesses of man's innermost thoughts, even as the light brings every dark corner to plain view; and he is life itself, and the source and sustainer of all true life, even as every form of life on this earth is dependent upon the light of the sun for its existence and continuing sustenance. Who but God â€œhas immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable, which no man has seen or is able to seeâ€ (I Timothy 6:16)? With whom else does very light dwell (Daniel 2:22)? Therefore, when Jesus proclaimed that he was the Light of the World, he was confessing himself to be in possession of the attributes of God, and indeed to be very God in himself. â€œGod is light, and in him is no darkness at allâ€ (I John 1:5) â€“ this is true of our Savior, no less than our heavenly Father.
But second, we must be very careful to observe that Jesus is not just Light: he is the Light of the World. The Father is Light indeed, but no man can approach unto him, and no eye can behold him. The glory of Jesus consists of this, that he alone is able to reveal the glory of the Godhead to the world of men. He alone is able to bring to men the true life that consists of knowing God (John 1:1-5). In fact, this is the very essence of the Messianic task: the Messiah was to be God himself who would bring the unapproachable presence of God to men, dwelling among them, healing their diseases, forgiving their sins, and bringing them back to life. God is light, and in his light is life; therefore, the Messiah, the promised Savior who would bring God's presence down to the world of men, is none other than he who should bring to the world â€œthe light of lifeâ€. That is the Messianic task in brief; and when we see Jesus as the Light, and thus very God; and moreover, as the Light of the World, and thus the only one who can bring God's presence to men; we see him then as the long-awaited Christ. The definition of â€œChristâ€ in short is only this: â€œthe Light of the Worldâ€. Now, let us observe how he undertakes to perform his Messianic task of bringing the light of life in the presence of God to the desperate world of men.
We must realize from the beginning that the reason that no man may be found in God's presence is simply that he is â€œof purer eyes than to behold evilâ€ (Habakkuk 1:13), and all men are sinners before him, and have been since the calamitous fall of their father Adam (Romans 5:12-21). If Jesus is to bring men back into fellowship with God, therefore, and enable them to rejoice in his presence, he must first of all purify them from their sinfulness. Now, notice how this blind man was healed: Jesus spit upon the ground and made mud to cover his eyes, as if to say, â€œyour real blindness is because of your dirtiness and impurity; and if you are to see in truth, it must be washed away from youâ€; and then, he commanded him to wash in the Pool of Siloam, which means, â€œsent,â€ and is quite the same term as the ancient Messianic designation â€œShilohâ€ (see Genesis 49:10) â€“ as if to say, â€œif you would be cleansed from your impurity, you may only do so by coming to the Messiah and being cleansed in himâ€. So then, this miracle is more than a simple deliverance from a physical evil, but holds forth to us in a parable the precious truth of the gospel, that we may be cleansed from our sins only through the purifying work of Christ, from whose side flowed both the blood of substitution, for absolution from guilt; and the water of purification, for cleansing from impurity (John 19:34-35).
But also, in the circumstance of Jesus' giving sight to the man born blind by the making of mud, we are reminded of how God created man in the first place, forming him from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). The Messianic accomplishment, then, is nothing less than a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17); and even as God first created the world through the Son, speaking light into existence (Colossians 1:15-16); so too he creates fallen man anew through the Son, speaking into existence the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:6). Oh, let us be thankful that, when we were dead in sins, blinded in our minds, and utterly unable to come into the presence of God, with whom dwells the light of life, Jesus opened up the blind eyes of our hearts, breathed into our dead souls the breath of life, and raised us up to the presence of the Father. This is our Savior! He gives light to the blind, and in that light, which is the knowledge of God, is their true and abiding life.
Finally, let us observe the impact that Jesus' ministry of bringing light to the world has upon various classes of people. First, we immediately learn that, when a man is blind, the shining of the Light of the world upon his darkened eyes has no other effect than to flood his soul with a new and glorious light, that cannot be taken away. Of this class was the man himself, who was congenitally blind and had never been able to see, in order that his miraculous deliverance might reveal more fully the glory of the Father and the nature of his gospel; in the same way, we were born spiritually blind, and had never once felt a single ray of light falling upon our inner eye, until the Father spoke the light of his life into our hearts, by showing us from the gospel the face of his precious Son. This man, because he was blind indeed, was given sight at the appearing of the Light of the World; and this was true no less of his inner man, which was brought to the light of the gospel by the words of Jesus (John 9:35-39), than it was of his physical body. Let us learn, first, that when true light falls upon them who know that they are blind, it opens their eyes so that they may see in truth.
But second, when a man believes that he can see already, the true light shining upon him makes him blind indeed. How does this come about? When there is no light, there is no standard by which to judge a man's assertion of healthy eyesight. Deep within the earth, in the darkened caverns of vast and sunless caves, a man who is congenitally blind is no different from a man who has the keenest of vision. So when the world was steeped in spiritual darkness, before the Sun of Righteousness arose to cast the light of truth across its lands, all were alike unseeing, even they who professed to have vision. But when the true light came, the falsity of their claims was made manifest. When someone in a lightless room claims to have sight, and one says to him, â€œTell me then what is hanging upon the wallâ€ â€“ how can it be known if his answer is true or not? But when the candle is lit and he asks the same question, then by his answer can one determine if he is really blind. So when Jesus came, he brought with him the true light of God; and they who had been claiming to see were shown to be blind indeed, for they could not at all recognize the truth that Jesus had revealed, although he shined it upon them with utmost clarity and brilliance. So we must learn, second, that when the true Light falls upon them who think that they see, it makes them manifest that they are blind indeed. In this way, Jesus â€œenlightened every man coming into the world,â€ bringing to light the evil deeds and blindness of some, and bringing to others the light of the knowledge of God â€“ but in no case leaving any man finally untouched. In the end, every seeing man will be exposed as a blind and hardened hypocrite, and every blind man will be given new sight. This, again, is the Messianic task, as it relates to all mankind, those marked out for judgment, to judgment, and those marked out for mercy, to mercy.
Let us note, in concluding, that those who believe they see, but are blind indeed, may be grouped under two heads. The first is represented by the Pharisees, who were proud and self-deceived, and trusted in their own wisdom and their own works of righteousness for acceptance with God. So today, many trust that they have God's favor because of the things that they do, placing their hope either in their baptism, or their church attendance, or their list of good works that they think must outweigh the bad â€“ these all are blinded to the surpassing worth of the Messiah, who alone possesses a righteousness sufficient to please the all-holy God, and who gives his righteousness only to them who feel a need for it, and cry out to him for mercy. The second class is represented by the parents of the man born blind, who for fear of the Pharisees, and out of a desire not to fall into the reproach of society, were unwilling to confess Jesus as the Christ. So today, many are enamored with the opinions and goods of the world, and love the glory of men rather than the all-surpassing glory of God, which was revealed in the person of Christ. Are they not blind, when they would rather cling to their dung heap than embrace the free gospel-riches of Christ, that will bring nothing but eternal and ever-increasing joy? This love of the world is a very great blindness, for it does not see the greater glory shining upon it in the person of Christ; and the foolishness and blindness of this sort of person will likewise be made utterly manifest when every eye beholds Christ in his glory, and they who preferred their rubbish see at last, but ah, too late, what great glory they were blinded to before. O reader, do not be as they! If you are blind (and who of us is not blind from birth?), then cry out to Jesus, the Light of the World, and see if he will not flood your black and sin-darkened heart with the light of peace, truth, grace, and righteousness, and bring you before the God of unapproachable light, where you might rejoice in his glorious presence forevermore.